How to Leverage New Tech to Master Earned Media
There’s a lot to unpack from this week’s webinar discussing, “How to Leverage New Tech to Master Earned Media."
During this session, Propel Co-Founder and CEO Zach Cutler and SparkToro CEO and Co-Founder Rand Fishkin teamed up for a comprehensive webinar that went over all things earned media, from pitching to various reporting methods.
Discussing the Data
Propel’s recent study of the media relations landscape found the average journalist response rate to media pitches continues to decline from one quarter to the next, and year over year. Cutler noted that the average response rate to a PR pitch was around 4% in the first quarter of 2021 and gradually wanes down closer to 3% by the fourth quarter.
“Earned media is broken because we’ve had this proliferation of media outlets and there are no longer 10 or 20 journalists that you have to pitch, you have to have hundreds of influencers and bloggers and journalists so that you get your story in front of your audience,” Cutler said.
Fishkin adds to this point by saying that one of the challenges in PR and earned media is that it has become a very crowded space as an enormous amount of digital marketing enthusiasts fill up the space. There has also been an incentive for more coverage from the vast majority of businesses through SEO, content marketing, social media marketing and influencer marketing.
The key takeaway from this is that many PR pros are blasting out pitches to different prospects, which isn’t the most astute strategy. The process should be more concentrated on building relationships and gaining audience insights.
The Subject Line - First Impression Counts!
Through research in 2022, the Propel team confirmed there is a great disparity in response rate that is contingent upon the number of words in a subject line. It’s vital to keep the subject line sweet and short.
“I think this is somewhat a commonly known thing in the sales world and in general, but it’s interesting to apply this to PR pitches,” Cutler said.
Fishkin shares his advice on successful pitching, explaining that he generally avoids sending a cold pitch altogether. His approach is to have an interaction with a person on social media platforms such as Twitter or Linkedin prior to reaching out to them further. After that, he would send an email or additional message and allude to the fact that he and the person had a conversation the other day, which breeds familiarity and convenience.
“I don’t think you have to scale PR,”Fishkin said. “I rather have a low number of outreach and high success rate than high outreach, low success rate.”
Pitching: the Right Contact and the Right Topic
From the statistics above, you can see that it’s extremely important to make sure the topic you’re pitching about corresponds with the topic(s) that a media contact actually covers. Even though Health & Fitness was the most pitched topic of the month, this topic had one of the lowest journalist response rates.
“It’s kind of an interesting paradox because even though the world of media has proliferated exponentially, it’s more important than ever to narrowcast,” said Cutler.
Don’t forget that if an opportunity arises, whether it be a tweet or an email that is related to your brand, don’t wait, take advantage of it immediately.
Persistency and Calling it Quits
Taking a look at the data above, you can begin to understand how fast PR-journalist email interactions actually play out.
Journalists have already responded to about 70% of pitches the same day that they receive them. So, if you haven’t received a response the same day you sent out your pitch, the likelihood of obtaining a response declines by a large margin.
“I make my pitches as hyper-relevant to the conversation that’s going on right now as possible because clearly, most of the responses come within a day, and that means if the journalist isn’t thinking about it or the publication isn’t thinking about it, it’s out of sight out of mind,” Fishkin said.
But at the same time, Fishkin also reminds us to make sure we’re thinking of journalists as people just like us, who might have a delayed response for countless reasons, and that’s okay. Every interaction will naturally play out differently and at a different pace.
Many PR professionals believe that Friday is the worst day to pitch. It’s a fair presumption given that the weekend starts soon, and nobody wants to be bombarded with inquiries before they clock out.
However, Propel team debunked this myth and through data, discovered that Friday is actually the best weekday to pitch. Most engagement with pitches don’t necessarily happen on Friday, but relative to its low pitch volume, the average open and response rates are the highest.
Q: How does the longest subject line seem to have the highest open rate but not a great response rate? Why is this the case?
Zach Cutler: The open rate and the response rate aren’t always aligned. When you have a successful open rate, typically it means that the subject line was engaging or you have a good relationship with the person you pitched. When you have a good response rate, it means that the meat of the pitch was good and it was either a good message or with the right person or both. Generally, there are different factors that affect all of this.
Rand Fishkin: If you’re reading your email on a device like a phone and something has a long subject line, it gets cut off. So you have to open it in order to see the full subject line, and my theory would be that there are many long subject line emails that get opened and then deleted or archived, whereas in a short subject line you never have to open them.
Q: What’s the biggest mistake I could make in a cold email pitch?
Zach Cutler: When the journalist or the influencer can obviously tell that you just blasted this out to a bunch of people and you spent no time personalizing it to them. In Propel, we built this feature called “Generate Drafts” which combines mail merge with customization so you can create 10 drafts, and 85 to 95 percent of that pitch is going to be the same in all those ten drafts, but instead of pitches going out as a mail merge, now you have those in your drafts folder to go in and write at least one unique line or reference something else personal as well.
Rand Fishkin: Not having a warm interaction or getting an intro before you send it. It’s a lot more work to do that, but the payoff will be way better.
To learn more about how Propel can be your game-changing PR tool, book a demo with our team below!